Newbie Networks Share the Stage at TV Critics’ Tour

Revolt TV, Pivot Make Case Before Pundits

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The cable portion of the 2013 Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour received a jolt of new blood last week with the appearance of two new cable networks, Revolt TV and Pivot TV.

The two newbies joined 20 other cable programmers here to give about 200 television writers a preview of upcoming shows and specials.

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Revolt TV hired former ESPN executive Keith Clinkscales as CEO. He’ll oversee the new offering, featuring music-themed content aimed at urban millennials and set to launch in October with 25 million households via Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other distributors.

Combs said at a breakfast event last Friday (July 26) that “there wasn’t anything on television that was engaging and spoke directly to what was our No. 1 interest, which is music.”

Millennial-targeted network Pivot was also scheduled last Friday to present its new original shows, including late-night series TakePart Live, variety show HitRECord on TV!, docu-talk series Raising McCain and reality show Jersey Strong. The Participant Media-owned network is scheduled to launch Aug. 1 to 40 million subscribers.

A third new network, Al Jazeera America, canceled its TCA presentation last Monday, the same day it named former ABC News veteran Kate O’Brian as president and a slew of other anchor hires. It launches Aug. 20, having bought Current TV’s assets.

In other summer TCA highlights:

HBO will most likely recast late actor James Gandolfini’s character in recently green-lighted pilot Criminal Justice. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said he “couldn’t imagine” airing the pilot with Gandolfini in it.

Discovery Communications will spend $1.5 billion on original content for its 14 cable networks, more than double the $500 million spent seven years ago when David Zaslav took over as CEO, Zaslav said during the company’s presentation last Thursday (July 25). Discovery’s robust international business enables that level of investment, he said.

BBC America in November will mark the 50th anniversary of sci-fi franchise Doctor Who with a special and a movie, An Adventure in Space and Time, general manager Perry Simon said.

National Geographic Channel will feature a live telecast featuring acclaimed rock climber Alex Honnold this fall. Live Climb With Alex Honnold will feature the 27-year-old scaling a still-unidentified building, filmed in real time by cameramen hanging in position at various points along the side of the building.